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Alexander Statement on Student Loan Bill Votes

Before rates rise on July 1, “let’s work together and show the country we can do this.”

Washington, D.C., June 6 – In a floor speech today [VIDEO HERE] before the Senate vote on the Republican student loan bill which would set all student loan rates to a single market-based rate, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said “we don’t have a real disagreement—the House of Representatives has passed a bill based on the same idea, the President of the United States, President Obama, has presented a budget to the Senate a few weeks ago based on the same idea.”

Alexander said: “Our bill takes advantage of today’s low rates and lowers rates on all new student loans this year to below 5 percent—it’s fair to students, it’s fair to taxpayers, it’s a permanent solution and it’s the same idea that the House has already passed and the same idea that the president has recommended. I wish all of our serious issues opened with proposals from the president and the House of Representatives and Senate Republicans that were as close together as they are on this issue. We should sit down together and spend the next three weeks saying: ‘We all have the same idea, we have a serious issue here, it affects millions of students—so let’s work together and show the country we can do this.’”

He added: “Senate Democrats have come up with a short-term fix for 40 percent of the loans that will leave the rest of borrowers hanging high and dry. They raise taxes to do it. And it is unconstitutional to do it because it originates a revenue bill in the Senate instead of the House. That is their weak idea.”

Alexander, with Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Johnny Isakson (R-G.A.), in April introduced the “Comprehensive Student Loan Protection Act,” a bill that requires that, for each academic year, all newly-issued Stafford, Graduate PLUS, and Parent PLUS loans be set to the U.S. Treasury 10-year borrowing rate plus 3 percentage points. It would lower the interest rate for this coming school year for all newly issued federal student loans to a fixed rate of 4.75 percent, based on the May 15 auction rate of 1.75 percent.